Patients who follow a specific religion may experience specific moral conflicts when interacting with the health care system. Health care providers’ awareness of and sensitivity to such issues can be beneficial to patients and increase the quality of care they receive. The aims of this study were to investigate (1) which potential ethical issues were considered to be relevant to Muslim patients and (2) to examine if these assessments varied between Muslim non-medical, Muslim medical, and non-Muslim medical students.
An online questionnaire with n = 205 students from different universities in Zurich, Switzerland was conducted. The questionnaire contained a list of ethical issues of presumed relevance to Muslim patients, which had been compiled based on a literature search and an expert consultation.
Muslim non-medical students considered 33% of the ethical issues as morally problematic to Muslim patients. In contrast, Muslim medical students regarded 19%, and non-Muslim medical students 14%, of the issues as morally problematic. All three groups identified female circumcision and abortion as problematic for Muslim patients. Muslim non-medical students additionally highlighted access to a prayer room and to a professional Muslim chaplain as important to them.
There are different ideas about which issues are of moral relevance to Muslim patients. Further studies investigating Muslim patients’ views and the extent to which these views matched with health care providers’ assessments of ethical issues relevant to their Muslim patients, are needed to provide a robust empirical basis for culturally sensitive, patient-oriented clinical care.